Derisory Designs: Custom screen-printing to a T

Husband-and-wife-team Jesica Simpson and Jeremy Lauderin of Derisory Designs in Philadelphia on November 14, 2013. ( DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer )

JESICA SIMPSON, 32, and Jeremy Lauder, 31, of Bridesburg, own Derisory Designs, a screen-printing shop in the basement of a repurposed industrial building on 2nd Street near Cecil B. Moore Avenue in North Philadelphia. The married couple's company specializes in custom screen-printed apparel, art prints and promotional items. Jeremy oversees the printing side, and Jesica handles the books and customer service. I spoke with Jesica.

Q: How did the biz start?

A: In 2004, Jeremy and two friends wanted to make and sell Philly T-shirts, but other people were doing it and his friends split. Jeremy wanted to print for brands, and in 2005 we started dating and I got involved. We worked out of his rowhouse in Kensington with a printer in the basement.

Q: How did you get financing?

A: [Jeremy] initially got $5,000 from family, which enabled him to buy a screen-printing press. We worked part time until 2008, when we were laid off from our jobs - he was an architect and I was an interior designer - and we went full time with the business. Then we got some loans from a micro-lender to ramp up.

Q: Where did you get the loans?

A: Finanta. The first one was $39,000, and we used that to buy an automatic screen-printing press. We got a second loan for operating capital and to buy smaller equipment. That was for $35,000, after we paid off the first loan.

Q: What does the business do?

A: Custom screen-printed apparel. We consider ourselves apparel decorators, because we do more than just screen-printing.

Q: How's the biz model work?

A: We're really trying to feed two markets. Derisory Designs is a contract business for established clothing brands. They come to us with orders - hundreds of shirts - and we print and package it and they ship it to their wholesalers. That's about 95 percent of our business. We just launched for direct-to-consumer market.

Q: How much do Derisory Design print services cost?

A: For a one-color print, 12-shirt minimum, it's $7 per shirt. For more-complicated prints involving multiple colors, we have a 36-shirt minimum and that starts at $9.15 per shirt.

Q: Who are the customers?

A: Philly Phaithful does a lot of sports T-shirts. Duke & Winston is a local clothing brand we work with. We also work with a brand called Too Fast Apparel. They do gothic-alternative apparel.

Q: What's been the biggest challenge growing the business?

A: I think cash flow, workload and finding employees. We don't have all the amenities a larger corporation does, but we're loyal.

Q: How big a business is this?

A: $500,000 in annual revenue.

Q: How many employees?

A: Four full and one part time.


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